by Jessica Lawmaster, Executive Director
Simply put, we need each other. Our health and wellness are strongly linked to our ability to build relationships with one another. If there is ever a time where the need for connection cannot be automated or overlooked, it is when a parent welcomes a new baby to the world. At PEPS, we connect families with one another during this vulnerable time.
2016 marked a year of reflection, learning, and change for PEPS. I joined the PEPS team in February and took time to look back at the 33-year history of PEPS, meeting many of you who have supported PEPS along the way. I’m proud to share that we took some big leaps to improve access to PEPS and better meet community needs.
Early in 2016, we launched a new PEPS group registration system. Now, parents can choose a group nearest their neighborhood, closest to the date of their baby’s arrival and on the day and time that works best for them. This change has given us the ability to fill groups to capacity, strengthen the experience for parents and volunteers, create significant efficiencies within PEPS, and, most importantly, connect more parents.
The PEPS board of directors made an intentional decision in 2016 to focus the coming months and years on our service area of King and Snohomish Counties, rather than expanding outside of our region. This decision was rooted in our belief in the PEPS impact and in recognition that we still have more work to do here in ensuring that any and all families who want to join a PEPS group can. To move this work forward, we reorganized our staffing structure to create capacity for PEPS to engage with parents, partners, and communities: to listen, learn, and adapt.
We are deeply grateful to you, our financial supporters, volunteers and community partners, who generously invest in our work, so that we, in turn, can invest in creating social connections – one baby, one parent, one PEPS group at a time.
Looking ahead, PEPS will continue to deepen our commitment to meeting the needs of parents in King and Snohomish Counties. We will focus on strengthening our Group Leader training, growing meaningful new partnerships, building a vision of racial equity at PEPS, and fostering communities of support among new parents. As PEPS journeys on, I look forward to sharing about the impact we are seeing in the lives of new families.
As always, I invite you to reach out and share your ideas and stories. Thank you so much for your support and friendship.
About the Author
Jessica Lawmaster is the executive director of PEPS and a mother of three young daughters. Jessica earned her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Oklahoma and is passionate about supporting ways to empower and build resilience in families. This summer Jessica joined a Second Time Around group as well as an evening Newborn Group with her husband, Patrick. Jessica and her family moved to Seattle in 2016 and are fully enjoying exploring the culture, opportunities, and natural beauty the city has to offer. Contact Jessica at jessical [at] peps [dot] org.